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IRC 2015 Interview with Jack Smith of New Look

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Each week in the run up to Internet Retailing Conference (IRC) 2015 we’re previewing the conference through a series of overviews of the day’s programme and through interviews with key speakers. Today we hear from Jack Smith, group digital director at New Look , who will be speaking at IRC on selling to customers who are on the go.

Internet Retailing: You’re speaking at IRC 2015 on the ‘on the go’ customer. What do you think has been the single biggest change in the way New Look customers shop in recent times?

Jack Smith, group digital director at New Look (pictured left): The channels available to the customer have broadened massively and customer expectation has changed hugely so that whereas 10 years ago we had customers who really had at best one or two channels, they now have a plethora of channels to communicate with us and shop with us. Their expectations and understanding of what the world is like with us has completely been revolutionised.


IR: What’s the most significant challenge in serving those customers?

JS: Those channels, and customer expectations, are evolving all the time, so how do you keep up and meet, and exceed, their expectations when in essence customers are all really ahead of us? That’s the biggest challenge, which manifests itself in questions such as how do you develop solutions, how do you execute those solutions really, really well, and how do you know what the next thing is going to be because customers are always trying new things all the time? We have to balance meeting those needs with managing our investments carefully. If we had all the money in the world, we could do research and development on every new thing that’s coming out, but no retailer has pockets that deep. You do have to narrow it down slightly. It’s working out what to focus on.

IR: How has New Look overcome that challenge, and can you share one key benefit that doing so has given you?

JS: In the last couple of years we’ve taken a really big focus on the customer. There are a couple of things that we’ve really executed well. We’ve had a big focus on mobile and improving the experience for our customers on mobile. Half of our visitors and more than 30% of our revenue comes through mobile, and we’ve done a lot to improve that experience.

In particular, we’ve focused around checkout on mobile. One of the biggest pain points for customers is actually paying for their goods and what I think retailers do really badly, both online and offline, is to make that checkout process really really difficult. You’re asking customers to do something they don’t want to do and you’re making it really arduous for them at the same time.

At the back end of last year we had a lot of focus around redesigning our checkout, across all our digital channels. We have a single checkout that works on mobile and desktop that allows customers to start on one channel and move to mobile so they could start on desktop and complete their transaction on mobile. That’s completely revolutionising the way our customers interact with us through the checkout. Our existing customers, if they’re happy with all of the settings and decisions they made previously around payments and delivery options, can now just press checkout and go through with one button click and complete their purchase. We’ve tried to remove all of the friction for existing customers. When it’s new customers they’ve got it down to a two page checkout which is pretty good. We’ve removed everything that’s not critical for them, though it’s very tempting we’ve tried not to use it to capture data for ourselves.

You often see in checkouts that the retailer asks for information. But it’s not going to help your transaction and it’s just going to help us remarket to you. We’ve taken a very different view and said let’s make this really lean, make it work for the customer, and not capture information that’s not absolutely critical to complete that transaction. We’ve had huge success on the back of that – our conversion rate has improved massively across desktop and mobile as a result.

IR: What do you envisage will most change in the way we buy in the next five years?

JS: There’s clearly going to be a continued focus on mobility and mobile devices and I think there’ll be a big change around what those devices will enable us to do. Devices have historically been around what you can see and what you can hear, and not really about what you can touch. We’re just starting to see touch sensitive interactions with new Apple devices. I think the experience for our customers is going to become much richer because it’s going to be a much more touch, sound and sight type experience. I think that’s going to allow us to increasingly blend our offline and online experiences. There was a big buzz around customer relationship management about 10 years ago – I think actually CRM has really matured and I think we have the ability to build really meaningful relationships with our customers on the back of good information. At the same time really strong analytics will help us improve the day-to-day relationship we have with our customers.

IR: What are you most looking forward to at IRC 2015, apart from your own presentation?

JS: I think it’s going to be very interesting hearing from quite a broad set of speakers. It’s nice to see a conference that’s quite rounded in what it’s looking at, with a focus on the customer, on product and on ordering. So often these things just focus on technology, or the customer, or product and it’s nice to see all those things come together.

Jack Smith’s retailer case study, Capturing the Pocket Books of Customer on the Go!, is in Stream 1: The Customer at IRC 2015 at 2pm. Find out more about the event, the conference line-up and the exhibition by visiting

We have 10 access-all-areas delegates passes to give away at IRC 2015. Read this story to find out how to enter.

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